This month marks the 10th anniversary of the closing of The Rocky Mountain News.
The journalism landscape over the last decade continues to get battered. The Rocky, unfortunately, was on the leading edge of the changes and after nearly 150 years of publication, its owners decided to shut the paper down instead of accruing more losses. At the time, I was one of the 200 Rocky journalists out of a job and left the contemplate the future of the industry.
For me it was an exit ramp to a more sustainable and rewarding career. For others, it was a long road that led to round after round of layoffs and closures that continues today.
Just in the last month, BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Yahoo News and Gannett made plans to lay off more than 1,000 people. In this latest round, we saw an unusual correction in digital media, which were supposed to be immune to the issues facing the so-called legacy media. These outlets don’t have to deal with printing costs or large overhead and were supposed to be the survivors.
In the case of the BuzzFeed layoffs, the cuts came to its health team, national news desks and investigative teams. As a writer at Columbia Journalism Review said, “News is not a pathway to (the) future.”
For the world of crisis communication and reputation management, these ongoing challenges in journalism mean that reporting on potential issues will focus more of what gets readers to click or comment. This means stories and headlines will be more salacious, reporting will be more one-sided and news that gets significant engagement will be pushed to go viral. But it also means that the window for a story staying alive will be much shorter.
To be prepared for these continued changes, GroundFloor Media counsels our clients to have crisis communication plans ready, as well as have key staff media-trained so they can be ready with a response in the first version of a story, hopefully setting a more-balanced narrative.